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Retired Delta Pilots Want Pensions Back

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A former Delta Air Lines senior captain has launched a petition trying to convince the reorganized company to reinstate pensions that were terminated when the airline first filed for bankruptcy eight years ago. Robert Moser was among about 3,500 retired pilots whose pensions were cut by 80 percent or more when they were assumed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Northwest Airlines filed for bankruptcy on the same day as Delta but the company did not ask for the pension plan to be terminated. Now that the two airlines have merged, Moser says there's a terrible injustice in that the reorganized airline continues to fund the pensions of the Northwest retirees while the long-term employees who were at Delta long before the merger are left without. "The very pilot group that helped place Delta in an extraordinary business position to capitalize on recent big moves, are the same ones that have disproportionately suffered the biggest hit during and after the re-organization," Moser says in the petition preamble.

Moser noted that pensions are not a "gift" from the company to retirees but include years of deferred income paid by the employees to provide income in retirement. Moser said those most affected by the situation retired between 2002 and 2007 when the retirement age for pilots went to 65 from 60. Like many of the others, Moser has taken jobs at foreign airlines to support himself and his family in the absence of the pension. He's currently a Boeing 777 instructor for an Asian airline. "My workdays are long, my commute is 15 hours each way, and I subject my body to 14 time zones every three weeks," Moser said. "And, I am better off than most of the 3500 retirees because I am still working and earning a few dollars."

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